Rembrandt, The Night Watch (Militia Company of Frans Banning Cocq), 1642
Rembrandt was also a great printmaker who
explored the expressive possibilities of etching.
Etching is similar to engraving in that lines are cut
into a copper plate; but unlike engraving, the plate
is first prepared with a waxy ground. The artist
scratches through this ground to expose the copper
plate. The plate, still coated in the ground, is
immersed in acid, which cuts the lines that have
been exposed. Finally, the ground is removed, and
the plate is inked and printed in the same manner as
an engraving. Because the artist does not cut
directly into the plate, but merely scratches through
the ground, he can draw much more freely and
quickly. Sometimes lines are scratched directly into
the plate with a needle. This technique, called
drypoint, produces a rich, velvety black area
because scratching the line leaves a rough burr of
metal that also catches ink. Rembrandt used drypoint with etching in many of his prints, including the Three Crosses
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